Quiz Monkey
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About This Website

If you like my website, and/or if you've found it useful, please consider making a small donation to my Just Giving page, which I've set up just for this purpose. To begin with I'm collecting for a charity whose work I have benefitted from myself (and continue to do so): the British Heart Foundation. It would be great to raise £100 in the first month.

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Structure of this Website

When I started compiling my list of quiz questions – over 20 years ago now – I just wrote them down by hand, on sheets of lined A4 paper. When the list had grown to a few dozen sheets (that's a couple of thousand questions), I decided that I needed to classify them – or I might never be able to find the one I wanted!

The first step was to type them up on a computer. I think it's safe to admit now that I didn't have a computer at home in those days, so I did it at work when the boss wasn't looking.

It seemed to make sense to have a separate file for each subject. Each file consisted of a table, with one column for the "questions" (which aren't actually questions, of course – see When is a Question Not a Question?) and one for the answers.

I didn't really have to spend much time defining subjects. For the top level categories there were lots of options (Trivial Pursuit, Bullseye; today there would also be Eggheads) but I went with the classification that I was most familiar with: the one that's used in the Macclesfield Quiz League. This gave me Arts & Entertainment, Geography, History, Science, Sport, and General Knowledge.

General Knowledge was everything that didn't fit into any of the other five categories, and it was almost as big as the other five put together. So I split it into sub–categories, and I came up with ten: Buildings and Architecture, The Calendar, Food and Drink, Language, Leisure, Mythology, People, Religion, Travel – and Everything Else. Everything Else was no sort of name for a category, so I called it General. General is basically General Knowledge that's as General as it gets.

Some of these categories are divided into sub–categories. In particular, Arts & Entertainment is divided into Arts, Entertainment, Films, Literature, Music, Pop Music, and Television. (Music is mainly classical music, and Pop Music covers all forms of popular music including jazz, country, musical theatre, etc. Entertainment is a bit of a mish–mash; basically, of the stuff that doesn't fit into any of the other five subcategories, Arts is the highbrow – mainly painting and other visual arts – and Entertainment is the lowbrow.)

In the other categories, a few sub–divisions did present themselves. For example, in History there are sub–categories for Ancient History, Government, Kings and Queens, People in History, and World War II. Basically, I think anything that helps to reduce the number of items in any one "folder" is a Good Thing. That's what I was taught when I was a Unix administrator, anyway. (I was also taught that you shouldn't have both files and subfolders in any one folder – but I chose to ignore that one. There are lots of other pages in the History section, and in every other section, that aren't in sub–categories.)

At the "file" level, the classification is all my own. Some of them are obvious; for example in Geography there are files or subcategories for countries, towns and cities, rivers, mountains, etc. Others are less obvious, but just presented themselves from among the questions that I had when I started to classify my collection. The obvious example of the latter is Animals in Films – I seemed to have a few of these from Day One, so I put them in a file of their own; and that file has hardly grown since then. I never did anything about this – apart from anything else, I couldn't think where else to put them.

I've been working with this structure for so long now that it seems like second nature; but I have no idea how logical it seems to other people. Of course there is no standard system for classifying quiz questions. I did have a semi–serious look once at the Dewey Decimal System, which I knew was used by librarians (it's a quiz question!); but it's clearly designed for academic libraries, and it was so different from the structure I'd developed myself that I decided to stick with what I'd got. In the years since I started my collection, a number of similar collections have been published as books; they seem to use pretty much the same system as mine.

Now that my files are on a website, each category and sub–category has an index, and each file has a page. The menu that appears at the top of every page has a link to every index.

They say that when someone visits a website for the first time, if they don't find what they're looking for in three clicks they give up and go somewhere else. Well if my system makes sense to you, it should take you just two clicks, in most cases, to get to the page you're looking for – one to get to the index and another to get to the actual page. In a few cases (e.g. Arts & EntertainmentLiteratureAuthors) it'll take three.

A good percentage of the pages have indexes of their own, and if you find these helpful that's one more click. (If the page doesn't have its own index, in most cases the questions are sorted alphabetically by answer; so you can scroll down to the one you're looking for. Or of course you can use the Find facility in your browser.)

I hope all this makes sense to you. If you have any comments, please let me know.

© Haydn Thompson 2017